SCOTT - THE FREEMASON
Dr Alexander John Scott.D.D., was Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Essex from 1809 to 1823.
At the present time( October 2000) it has not been possible to establish when and where he was initiated. By a process of elimination is is presumed that he joined the Order whilst in Jamaica between 1796 and 1800. The 1842 book by his daughter(see Introduction) contains the following -'....he had been a Mason from an early period in his sea life......' He had sailed from Portsmouth in the Berwick in the spring of 1793(having been ordained Deacon at nearby Chichester in 1791 and Priest in 1792). There is a suggestion that he 'went to sea' to avoid his creditors. What is known as fact is that he was extremely short of money for he wrote to his uncle - an appeal for money - to enable him to buy clothing to take with him on the Berwick - he was not successful!!
AN OVERVIEW OF FREEMASONRY AT THAT TIME
Freemsonry was particularly strong in the Navy.
There were lodges formed on ships. There were lodges on the Prince(later to the Canceaux and the Guadaloupe) which has continued to this day as the Royal Somerset & Inverness Lodge No.4. and on the Vanguard - now London Lodge No.108 with a warrant dated 16.1.1760 and minutes from 1.5.1768.
Admiral Sir Peter Parker was Commander-in-Chief Jamaica 1778-1782. A prominent freemason he was also Grand Master of Jamaica for that period.
The Royal Lodge No. 207 was consecrated in Kingston, Jamaica in 1794.
Thomas Dunckerley. An extremely prominent freemason. He was the 'natural son' of King George II. He was a Master Gunner in the navy - a very senior rank. He had been initiated in 1754. He was appointed Provincial Grand Master for Hampshire in 1767 and by 1793 was provincial Grand Master for eight Provinces.
The Phoenix Lodge No. 257 was consecrated at Portsmouth in 1786. It can probably be described as the 'senior' navy lodge
Etienne Morin. A Frenchman. He left for the West Indies in 1761 with powers from the Grand Lodge of France to 'constitute' lodges of all degrees.
Henry Andrew Franken. He was born in Holland about 1720. In 1757 he settled in Jamaica and became a naturalised British subject. For many years he was employed as an interpreter in the Vice-Admiralty Court. Late in life he became Assistant Judge of the Court of Common Pleas at Port Royal. He died in 1795. He was associated with many early masonic MS.
Military Lodges 1732 to 1899 by R.F. Gould. Chapter V is devoted to the Navy.
Freemasonry and the Sea. By John H. Leper. Published originally in the Transactions of the Manchester Association of Masonic Research Vol XXXVI in 1946. It was published as a seperate re-print the following year.
History of the Phoenix Lodge No. 257. Howell 1894. A very comprehensive history which includes lists of members for the period 1794 to 1814.
Thomas Dunkerley. A Biography. 1891(Leper)
Thomas Dunkerley. A Biography.1982 (Chudley)
Rose Croix. 1987 (Jackson) ISBN 0 85318 151 9
A Historical Account of Jamaican Fremasonry. 1976(F.W.Seal-Coon)
(The most convenient sourse for consulting these books is at the United Grand Lodge of England Library, Great Queen Street, London.)
Whereas Seal-Coon's book that is mentioned above is very much a detailed reference work, an excellent concise history of freemasonry in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, written by Afeef A. Lazarus, as 'Experiences in Caribbean Masonry The Jamaican Perspective' is at www.geocities.com/Heartland/Hills/4155
There is nothing in any of the above mentioned publications(although many contain lists of members and prominent masons names) that will assist in providing any information about Alexander John Scott. Apart from the English Constitution the Scottish, and, more particularly, the Irish, Constitutions were very active in the West Indies at this time - as they still are. There is also a 'gap' in the returns of members of the Royal Lodge at Kingston during the relevant period.
On balance I am inclined to believe that he was initiated into freemasonry in Jamaica in the period circa 1796 -1800. He had been appointed to the Rectory of St John's, Jamaica, and has been described as being a convivial man who enjoyed the pleasures of life and an existence in Jamaica of ease and privilege and, '....in this manner he would sally forth from his retirement and books, either to sojourn with the Admiral, or on a visit among his island acquaintances, or to a dinner with his friends at Port Royal anchorage, where he was always hailed as an agreeable companion.....'(The Sea Chaplains ). Available Jamaica Almanacs in the British Library(British Museum) have been consulted without result. ANY information about this period in his life would be most welcome.
SCOTT was certainly not happy with his living at Southminster. In letters he referred to Southminster being ...'un-healthily situated in the marshes of Essex....'and nearby Southend-on-Sea as being '....quite a good watering-hole...' and I have no doubt that this meant then just the same as it does to-day!! On his own admission he spent as much time as he could away from Southminster - mainly in London.
Scott had joined the Lodge of Fortitude at Burnahm-on Crouch, some 3 miles from his parish at Southminster, on 25 April 1809. (This lodge was re-numbered '45' at the Union and was erased in 1830.) and shortly thereafter had been installed as Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Eseex. There is a minuted record of him having attended the Lodge of Good Fellowship No.276 at Chelmsford on 1 November 1813 and a Provincial Grand Lodge at Chelmsford in December 1815. On moving to Catterick he joined the Lennox Lodge No. 123 which met at Richmond, Yorkshire, where his last recorded subscription was made on 27 December 1832.